Finweek English Edition - - Economic Trends & Analysis - JO­HANN VAN ZYL jo­hannv@fin­

THE PRI­MARY agri­cul­tural in­dus­try can’t be blamed for the con­stantly in­creas­ing food prices, judg­ing by fig­ures just re­leased by agri­cul­tural or­gan­i­sa­tion Grain SA (GSA). GSA chair­man Neels Fer­reira says last year’s in­crease can cer­tainly not be at­trib­uted to the prices of ba­sic food­stuffs, such as maize and wheat, which are used as raw ma­te­ri­als for sta­ple foods. “In fact, to the end of April this year the price of white maize fell by 13,8% on an an­nu­alised ba­sis and that of wheat by even more, namely 34,8%.”

The con­sumer price in­dex for food in­creased sharply in 2005 and again in 2007, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s Direc­torate of Agri­cul­tural Statis­tics (see graph). Last year inflation was still run­ning at 16,9% for food and 9,9% for non-food prod­ucts from an agri­cul­tural source. And ac­cord­ing to Statis­tics SA the price of a 700g loaf of brown bread in­creased from R5,75 in March 2008 to R7,21 in March 2009 – mak­ing that loaf 25,4% more ex­pen­sive than last year.

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